Photo by Courtesy Melody Moody
The key to change is finding simple, affordable tools that are easily accessible for people of all ages, races, socio-economic levels and abilities. When you look at cities around the U.S. and the world—places with some of the happiest, healthiest people, and places where people most want to live and raise families—they are also some of the most bicycle-friendly places.
It is hard to argue with facts that demonstrate that cities around the nation that have invested in biking and pedestrian infrastructure have seen dramatic increases in local economic development and quality of life.
• Businesses see increased profits, and residents see increased property values around areas with trails and multi-use paths. Mississippi examples include the Longleaf Trace in Hattiesburg, and the Tanglefoot Trail in north Mississippi. Locally, the creation of the Museum to Market and Lefleur East Trail in Jackson promise renewed economic activity.
• Communities thrive when its citizens walk or ride bicycles. People experience their city first-hand and not from the window of a car. They invest in local businesses and help foster a city that attracts and retains young talent.
• Investing in a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly city benefits everyone. Better infrastructure includes sidewalks and improved roads in addition to bike lanes and trails.
• Statistically, more people on bikes create safer streets for everyone using the roads.
• "Complete streets" policies lay the foundation for smart, long-term strategies to create streets that accommodate all road users - not just motorists. These efforts provide for a more inclusive Jackson with an environment and infrastructure that supports motorists as well as pedestrians, runners, bicyclists, disabled people, children, and others who can't or don't drive.
To create a connected, more livable community—instead of one based around cars and urban sprawl—people must speak out for a viable alternative. If citizens want to safely cross streets, ride with their children or simply go for a walk, then they must speak up for a bicycle- and
Jackson needs infrastructure and policies that support biking and walking. It needs businesses that encourage pedestrian traffic and provide bike racks to encourage people to ride bikes. It needs events that support a biking and pedestrian-friendly culture. It needs safer roads to ride on, more sidewalks to walk on, and it needs people to stand up and to make it part of the economic conversation.
When you see a bicyclist riding down the streets of Jackson, remember that they are not just there to slow down your commute. They are a part of what is making our city a better place to live.
The Biking Community
Jackson has a thriving bike culture with a lot of ways to get involved:
• The Jackson Bike Advocates' monthly community bike rides start in the Rainbow Whole Foods Grocery parking lot on the last Friday of every month at 6 p.m.
• The JXN Community Bike Shop in Midtown provides opportunities to learn about bike repair and maintenance.
• JBA hosts a Museum to Market Trail clean-up day.
• The statewide "Bike Summit" is Oct. 2 at the Agriculture and Forestry Museum. Meet and mingle with bike advocates from around the state.
• JBA advocates to demand changes that leads to a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly Jackson.
Keep up with these opportunities and get involved through Bike Walk Mississippi, a statewide bicycle- and pedestrian-advocacy organization headquartered in Jackson. Visit bikewalkmississippi.org for more info.
Melody Moody is a co-founder of the Jackson Bike Advocates and now serves as executive director of Bike Walk Mississippi. Bicycling Magazine recently featured Moody as a 2013 Innovator in Bicycle Advocacy. Bike Walk Mississippi received the 2013 Advocacy Organization of the Year award from the National Alliance for Biking and Walking.
Correction: In a previous version of this story, the winner of the 2013 Advocacy Organization of the Year award was incorrectly named. We apologize for the error.
What Our City Needs
Vision 2022: A Regional Vision
Big Ideas: Getting Jacksonians into City Parks
Revisited: Town Creek
Defined: People's Assemblies
New Idea: More Than Sports
Bright Idea: Conserve Energy, Create Jobs
Filling the Emptiness
Your JXN Idea
Best Practice: Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum
What the Heck Is An IBA?
Radical Idea: Vacancy Tax
Everyone Needs a Roof
Jackson Planning Map